Tidbits and Tales to the beginnings of an adventure….,

Sierra Madres
Road to Oaxaca

Recollections from LCP 2008

You know you are far from home when the plane lands and then makes a 360 degree turn to taxi along the same runway it landed on.  As the plane slowly returns to the terminal, you frantically scan the horizon for flying headlights and pray to God you’ll make it home safely.

You realize and appreciate the safety of roll cages in La Carrera cars after you experience a 30 kilometer drive at night in a local Tuxtla-Gutierrez taxi cab. After passing 12 cars and trucks on the road, you quit counting and stare out the side window so the anxiety rising in your throat can be quieted by the humid air and familial sights taking place in this beautiful country of Mexico. Just sigh and leave the rally car racing to the taxi cab driver.

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Chiapas Fairgrounds prepping for 2008 La Carrera Panamericana!

You meet your Servicio crew mate waiting at the door of the motel. “You, Marcia? he asks. “Yes,” I reply with a smile. “Thought so,” is the simple return, and we nod to each other’s appraisal that we will work well together.

The next day, you’ve joined your crew.

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GT Racer film crew

At the fair grounds where the vintage racecars are staged, you get to walk around and view those cars that send tingles up your spine and those cars that make you smile.

Compadres arrive with wide-eyes of surprise and well-wishes. New and interesting people abound and everyone is prepping for the greatest endurance race in North America.

Dia 2, 2008 La Carrera Panamericana outside Oaxaca

Race Day: You know you have left the comforts of your country and have begun an exceptional adventure when, on the first day of the race, you stop at a Pemex gas station to use the facilities and give some of your pesos to another woman who has none. As she readies to leave, she thanks you for your help and, in a heavily accented voice, introduces herself as Mrs. Stig Blomquist!

Ah!!!

Viva La Carrera Panamericana!!!

Unwritten Rule

Spirit LCP_2One of the things I look forward to in La Carrera Panamerica is its spirit. It is an unwritten rule, this “El Espiritu de La Carrera.” You see its icon on the website – –  that little ghost spirit moving across the screen with its thumb out?

The rule is…, if you see someone on the road in need, you stop and lend a helping hand or provide a ride. Screw the race results; forget your overwhelming need to win. You stop and you help out, no matter how much time is lost.

It’s that simple.

It’s that cool!

What’s the Draw?

Many feel they are meant to win. Or, they are sponsored to win. They don’t put in all this time, effort, or money to take a back seat. The desire is to win! It’s the premiere motivating factor.

Gerie’s ’64 Nova and Mustang on oval
Courtesy Ranachilanga Photography

Others arrive for the love of a historic road race, to take a chance, to meet with racing enthusiasts the world over, to duke it out with the elements, to refresh friendships, to compete with the best, to make contacts for business and pleasure, to see the entire breadth of an incredible country and the warmth of its people, to spend horrendous amounts of money in hopes of keeping their historic race car on the road and finishing La Carrera Panamericana.

It is an adventure, plain and simple.

You’ve got to understand that and take the good with the bad and make the best of what is dealt you.

It takes tenacity, resourcefulness, good will, thoughtful process, a tremendous amount of energy, skill, and the acceptance of very little sleep.

2011 Gregory's Orig PanAm Courtesy Ranachilanga

2011 Gregory’s Orig PanAm
Courtesy Ranachilanga Photography

Is it worth it?

You decide for yourself.

While the race teams ….,

get ready to roll!

Where Do They Come From?

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Pierre de Thoisy 2007
Tehuacan_Puebla Stage 2

Competitors arrive from all over the world relishing the opportunity to race in La Carrera Panamericana.

In this 26th Anniversary of La Carrera Panamericana, teams represent  Mexico, U.S.A., Canada, France, Sweden, Belgium, Spain, Czech Republic, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, the UK, and Australia. Some crews pack up their vintage car and drive it over 6,000 miles to participate in the hopes that they make the return trip. Others ship their car from Europe or Australia and arrive with bags in the trunk ready to drive the line each day, and succeed to a podium finish.

People come to challenge themselves, to take pleasure in the moment, and to drive really, really, fast.

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Stig Blomquist 2008
Tuxtla-Gutierrez to Oaxaca Stage 1

This year the race route extends from its southern commencement point in the port city of Veracruz to its terminus in Zacatecas. It’s a seven-day, 3,093 kilometers endurance test of vintage race cars, their drivers and co-drivers, and their crew. It is not for the faint of heart, but serious business with a twist.

Although, a purse and trophy did exist in the 1950 to 1954 races, there are no longer monetary gains to be made; only bragging rights. And, those rights have fallen to a select few over the years.

(Results courtesy of Wikipedia)

La Carrera Panamericana Overall Winners: 1950 to 1954

Year Winning Driver Entrant Car Time
1950 Hershel McGriffRay Elliot Roy Sundstrom (U.S.A.) Olds 88 27:34:25
1951 Piero Taruffi
Luigi Chinetti
Centro Deportivo Italiano Ferrari 212 21:57:52
1952 Karl Kling
Hans Klenk
Daimler-Benz AG (Germany) Mercedes-Benz 300 SL 18:51:19
1953 Juan Manual Fangio
Gino Bronzoni
Scuderia Lancia (Italy) Lancia D24 Pinin Farina 18:11:00
1954 Umberto Maglioli Erwin Goldschmidt Ferrari 375 Plus Pinin Farina 17:40:26

La Carrera Panamericana Overall Winners: 1988 to 2012

Year Piloto Co-piloto Country Auto
1988 Eduardo Morales Gael Rodriguez Mexico Ford
1989 Guillermo Rojas Alberto Rojas, Jr Mexico Mercury
1990 Alain de Cadenet Gordon Currie UK Jaguar
1991 John Ward Shirley Ward U.S.A. Kurtis
1992 Peter Frank Mark Williams U.S.A. Mercury
1993 Carlos Anaya Eduardo Rodriguez Mexico Studebaker
1994 Carlos Anaya Eduardo Rodriguez Mexico Studebaker
1995 Kevin Ward Kimberlee Augustine U.S.A. Studebaker
1996 Carlos Anaya Eduardo Rodriguez Mexico Studebaker
1997 Pierre de Thoisy Philippe Lemoine France Studebaker
1998 Pierre de Thoisy Jean-Pierre Gontier France Studebaker
1999 Pierre de Thoisy Jacques Tropenat France Studebaker
2000 Pierre de Thoisy Jacques Tropenat France Studebaker
2001 Pierre de Thoisy Carlos Macaya France/Costa Rica Studebaker
2002 Dave Mockett Alan Baillie U.S.A./UK Oldsmobile
2003 Pierre de Thoisy Pierr Schockaert France/Germany Studebaker
2004 Juan Carlos Sarmiento Raúl Villareal Mexico Studebaker
2005 Juan Carlos Sarmiento Raúl Villareal Mexico Studebaker
2006 Gabriel Pérez Angelica Fuentes Mexico Ford
2007 Pierre de Thoisy Frédéric Stoesser France Studebaker
2008 Bill Beilharz Jorge Ceballos U.S.A./Mexico Studebaker
2009 Stig Blomquist Ana Goñi Boracco Sweden/Venezuela Studebaker
2010 Harri Rovanperä Jouni Närhi Finland Studebaker
2011 Richard Trivino Marco Hernández Mexico Studebaker
2012 Gabriel Pérez Ignacio Rodríguez Mexico Studebaker
2013

The race is run in a pro-rally format. This year the transit sections total 2,518 km and speed sections 576 km. Twenty Mexican Federales’ cars and their hand-picked drivers close off the roads so the special speed stages, which occur throughout the day, can be run safely and, at times, without incidence. Transit sections between the speed stages may require drive times up to 2 hours. The longest transit section is usually saved for the final day. This is where nerves fray and head gaskets blow.

Race Cars are Starting to Rumble

And, blogs are starting to roll…,

www.blogranachilanga.tk    Rene has been hard at work in the past few months getting plans together to run the race route, photographing and documenting all the wonderful places and the fabulous times this historical race can bring. Definitely, another blog you want to have in your repertoire and bookmark. You can also follow him on Twitter (Rene Ortega@Ranachilanga) and FaceBook.

www.martinstaxi.com    Perusing through the list of participants last night, it was great to see El Taxi Perdido racing with a host of other Alfa’s in the Histόrica A+ class. They are a well-loved team and have a growing fan base within the US and Mexico. Follow along in their travels and adventures through El Taxi Perdido’s Blog posts. Be sure to bookmark them and check back often.

http://www.applefarmerracing.com/   Apple Farmer Racing is one of my two favorite race cars and teams from the NW! Running a beautiful red apple ’53 Studebaker in Turismo de Producciόn this year, I have no doubt crew mate Steve Berry plans to spin a good yarn or two and provide beautiful photos of his team’s travails along the way.

http://www.funksterwtf.blogspot.com/   Kristin’s indomitable spirit flows through her writing and keeps us apprised of the “never a routine day” in La Carrera Panamericana. She’ll be part and parcel to Team #11’s quest for the podium in the tough running Turismo de Producciόn class.

http://wheeled-and-rolling.blogspot.com/   Jorge’s got a pension and passion for rally racing and it shows in his blogs. No doubt he’ll be keeping us well-informed about this year’s La Carrera Panamericana. Bookmark his blog or run an RSS feed so you don’t miss out!

http://www.datsunpanamericana.blogspot.com/  A team that runs close to my heart in their love for all things Datsun. Francisco aptly handles a Datsun 510 in the Histόrica A + class. It’ll be fierce competition with a number of Alfa’s, Porsche’s and one lone Volvo. Keep tabs on this blog to keep your competitive juices flowing!

http://www.lscheller.blogspot.com/  The great High Speed Bull Shippers are ready for another round in La Carrera Panamericana. Lauren performs a tremendous and skillful job, being co-piloto for her Dad during the day in their Original PanAm class Ford Victoria, and super adept blogger at night. It is no small feat to put in those hours. Follow along as she keeps us informed about her racing escapades through great content and photographs.

http://panamrace.blogspot.com/ The Silver Fox has the honor of being piloted by Gerie Bledsoe with his exceptional co-piloto El Fer. They make for one fantastic team! A beautiful silver Studebaker is their ride of choice through this year’s La Carrera Panamericana. It places them squarely in the Turismo de Producciόn class which has, by far, the most variety of historic cars in this year’s race. Studebaker, Jaguar, Volvo, Ford and JL Holden are all represented well.

Lesson Plans

While we wait for the arrival of race day, I thought it prudent to take some time to better OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAunderstand what’s involved in participating in a road rally like La Carrera Panamericana.

Where to start?

I guess the best place is the starting line-up.

About one hundred opportunities to race a car in this 26th Anniversary of La Carrera Panamericana exist. Eighty seven of those have been set aside awaiting the arrival of the participants. If you consider the crews, friends and families, that’s a lot of folks heading to southern Mexico. This is a huge event!

At last post on the official La Carrera site, 35 slots have been filled by Mexican teams, another 21 hail from U.S. and Canada. Eighteen slots have been filled by international competitors, 10 teams are combining international, Mexican and US allegiances and 4 are reserved for Exhibition Class. Porsches and Mustangs abound in this race. Three original PanAm class racers from the US and Canada help keep the historic spirit alive!

(It may be of statistical interest to note where participants hailed from back in 2007 La Carrera Panamericana… (just happen to have stored that information) … 59 slots were filled by U.S. and Canadian participants. Eleven slots by international competitors and 27 reserved for Mexican racing teams.)

Each team (piloto and co-piloto) in a race car is placed in a particular class or category based on several specifications or regulations.

# of Teams       Class/Category                Team #

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54 Studebaker

14             Tourismo de Produccion            2 – 99
Spec Highights: Sedan 1940 – 1954, 305 V-8 5000cc max. 500-600 cfm, In-line 6, 5000cc max. 600 cfm or 4 cyl. 2000cc, original configuration, 4-speed. Examples: Studebaker, Ford/Mecury, Jaguar, Morris Minor

10             Turismo Mayor                          100-149       Spec Highights:  Sedan 1940 – 1954, 366 V-8 6000cc, 305 In-line 6, 5000cc max. 600 cfm or 4 cyl. 2500cc, original configuration, 4-speed. Ex. Olds, Ford/Mecury, Studebaker, Cadillac

4              Sport Menor                              150-199

LT Special

LT Special

Spec Highights:  Sport car 1940 – 1954, 4 cyl. 2000cc for original and 1600cc for “modern.”  Ex. Porsche

3              Sport Mayor                              200-249
Spec Highights:  Sport car 1940 – 1954, In-line 6 2000cc bored up to 5000cc for original and 3000cc for “modern.”  Ex. Jaguar, Sam Burg’s LT Special

4              Historica A                                250-279
Spec Highights: Original manufactured car 1955 – 1965, 4 cyl. 2000cc  Ex. Porsche, 1962 TR6, Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo

8              Historica A+                              280-299
Spec Highights: Original manufactured car 1965 – 1972, 4 cyl. 2000cc  Ex. Alfa Romeo Giula, Datsun 510, Volva 122, and El Taxi Perdido!

13             Historica B                                300-349
Spec Highights: Original manufactured car 1955 – 1972, 6 cyl. conforms to original manu. specs. Ex.  Porshe, 240Z

24             Historica C                                350-399
Spec Highights: Original manufactured car 1955 – 1965, V-8 600cfm and conforms to original manu. specs. Ex.  Chevy II SS, Mustang 260/289, Falcon, Dodge Dart

Ford Victoria

Ford Victoria

3              Original Pan-Am                        400-450
Spec Highights: Autos that participated in La Carrera in the 1950’s manufactured between 1950 – 1954, 4 cyl. original configuration, 4-speed. Ex. Hudson, Packard, Lincoln, Lancia, Ferrari

4              Exhibition/Unlimited                   451-499
Spec Highights: Any autos that don’t conform to the specifications for the other historic car groups/categories. Most entries are modern day sports cars. Ex. Porsche, BMW, Jag, Studebaker

You can see actual pictures of the participants and their cars if you click on the following url: LCP 2013 Participants

 

 

 

Intro to La Carrera Panamericana

Fellows pass me by and give me the once over.

“Ha!” they think, “passing fancy…, mid-life crisis!” but my fascination with La Carrera Panamericana is neither.

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Waiting our turn.
Road to Tehuacan.

A friend once said that I’m infected with a disease. A disease whose only cure is a mixture of adrenaline and gasoline coupled with the smell of burning rubber.

He may be right.

You interested in joining me on an adventure of a lifetime?

Stay tuned…,

It only gets better!

Dear God Almighty!

Blogging and website design has become rather sophisticated since last I launched the RoadRallyRhythms blog with TypePad in 2007. Bear with me as I learn all the fantastic features available on WordPress.

I love the scrolling image slider! It’s fun changing it up each day with photos I took as we ran the race route in La Carrera Panamericana 2007 & 2008. You can click on it to be transported to the picture’s page or any link associated with it! That is so slick!

2013_LaCarreraPanamericana_MapIt’ll make for great presentations as Rene (Ranachilanga) races through Mexico in this upcoming 2013 La Carrera Panamericana capturing the moments, the history, and the excitement of the greatest road race in North America.

If you’ve got the time, give me feedback on what you want to read or see developing (comments and email are always welcome).

 

The Spirit of La Carrera (Viva El Espiritu de la Carrera!)

It all started because I was tired of having my two young teenage boys watch 21st century high impact movies with special effects and no content. I coaxed and cajoled them into watching Cannonball Run; the 1970’s movie with Burt Reynolds, Dom Delouise, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Junior, Adrianne Barbeau and a host of other characters including a very young Jackie Chan, racing across the U.S. in an endurance road rally. The antics and comic juxtapositions were good, clean fun. My boys rolled their eyes at the end of the show, intimating that their mother was very outdated, and swiftly switched the television to Nintendo® video games.

The next day I was lamenting to a co-worker the disappointment I felt in that there were no more balls to the walls cross country road rallies. There didn’t seem to be any more of those types of adventures available to us or America’s youth. It all came pre-packaged or so expensive it was unattainable. He smiled and mentioned that his father raced in an endurance road rally in Mexico. A seven day, “1965 and older” vintage car road race that spans 3000 kilometers with Mexican Federales pacing you all the way through local towns and highways; clearing the path for gringos, international race car drivers, and competitors who would be just as happy with a Corona in their hand as a trophy.

I became intrigued.

65 Chevy II SS

And so, the adventure began…,